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Old 07-31-2005, 01:50 AM   #1
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Pretty good summary ...

Redskins have five questions they need to answer as camp starts


BY MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - (KRT) - As splendid as the notion seemed, the reality of Joe Gibbs' return to the NFL last season was as disturbing to watch as a piano tumbling from a 10th story window onto your brand new car.

A 6-10 record?

Missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season?

How do you fix that?

Gibbs and the club will begin to seek solutions Sunday when they open training camp at Redskins Park.

"The thing about pro sports that we all appreciate (is), you never know what's going to happen," Gibbs said. "Twice when I was here before we couldn't win a game in preseason and then we wind up going to the Super Bowl.

"It's very unpredictable."

For the Redskins to challenge for the NFC East and return to the playoffs, these questions have to be answered during training camp:

IS PATRICK RAMSEY REALLY "THE GUY" AT QUARTERBACK?

Who knows? But if his performance during June's minicamp is an indication, he'll do fine. Keep in mind that minicamp drills are vastly different from in-game situations. What Ramsey has going for him is arm strength, which will enable him to get the ball downfield to speedy new receivers David Patten and Santana Moss. The club has made concessions (shotgun formations, faster receivers) to help Ramsey. They've also given him most of the practice reps during the offseason, instead of splitting them with Mark Brunell. "Being out there with the guys and running with the same guys every time, I think it's been very helpful," Ramsey said. "Just knowing the offense better is what I'm most excited about." If Ramsey falters, the Redskins will go to Brunell, who finally looks like he has overcome the nagging leg injuries he had last year.

WILL IT TAKE THE SKINS 12 GAMES TO SCORE MORE THAN 18 POINTS?

It shouldn't. Last season, the Redskins didn't score more than 18 points in a game until Dec. 5, when they defeated the New York Giants 31-7. This season, the team finally has stability at quarterback. Gibbs waited until the middle of game No. 9 to pull the plug on Brunell. Ramsey goes into this season as the starter. After last year's calamity at QB, the team won't hesitate to go with someone else if Ramsey falters. Secondly, the club finally has legitimate deep threats on the outside with Moss and Patten, as well as a good underneath target in Chris Cooley. The offensive line is solid again with the return of Jon Jansen and the acquisition of former Ravens center Casey Rabach. The Redskins won't be a juggernaut, but they'll score more points than last season.

CAN RUNNING BACK CLINTON PORTIS RETURN TO FORM AS A HOME-RUN THREAT?

Certainly, and the Redskins have made changes to make sure it happens. His first carry last season went for a 64-yard touchdown against Tampa Bay, but Portis finished the year with career lows for yardage (1,315), yards per carry (3.8) and touchdowns (4), lumbering in a system more suited to fit the style of a power back. The Redskins tweaked some of their blocking techniques in the offseason to copy the zone-blocking schemes used by Portis' former team, the Denver Broncos. That will give Portis more room to run because instead of trying to plow through a particular hole, he'll have the option of zipping through any opening. The new schemes take advantage of Portis' skills as a cutback runner. "It's simplified and it's a nicer scheme," he said. "I think everybody is looking forward to it."

WILL THE DEFENSE BE AS GOOD AS LAST YEAR'S UNIT?

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams did more with less last season, his unit finishing the year ranked No. 3 in total yards per game (339.1) without starting linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow and safety Matt Bowen. Bowen is healthy, Arrington is close to making a full recovery and Sean Taylor, who missed most of the offseason to deal with legal matters, is expected to report on time for camp. So there's no reason to think the Redskins can't rekindle the 2004 magic. But the club still needs a pass rusher. Of the Redskins' 40 sacks last season, 23 came from the front seven. Without a proven pass rusher, Williams wants the cornerbacks and safeties to play better. That's why the team drafted cornerback Carlos Rogers in the first round, but he's been slowed by a stress fracture in his right foot and a bone bruise in the same ankle. "People ask me right now, `Are you going to be as good on defense as you were last year?' " Williams said. "I can't predict that. Our opponents are different."

HOW WILL THE SITUATION AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER SHAKE OUT WITH ANTONIO PIERCE GONE TO THE NEW YORK GIANTS?

The front-runner for the starting job is Lemar Marshall, who finished with a career-high 82 tackles last season to go with 1.5 sacks. His best attribute is versatility. Pierce never played middle linebacker before last season and he had a career year, so Marshall looks to do the same. A former safety at Michigan State, Marshall says this is the season for him to emerge as a leader. "I look at every year as a make or break year," he said. "Every day you come on the field, it's a job interview and you don't want to have a bad interview. There's no pressure to fill A.P's (Antonio Pierce) shoes. You just want to do a great job for your team." Other candidates for the job include rookie Robert McCune, Khary Campbell, Brian Allen and Brandon Barnes. After returning from a knee injury that kept him out all last season, Barrow hoped to replace Pierce, but he was released by the team on Saturday.

---

2005, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).
18 is the number I'll be thinking about in my sleep! We can score more 18 points before Dec 5 can't we????

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Old 07-31-2005, 02:03 AM   #2
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

I'm suprised they didnt mention holdman. I figure on him starting at MLB.
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:04 AM   #3
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

that was a great article. i have no doubt our defense will be top 3 or better next season, especially with the return of arrington and bowen. i think the real questions are on offense.
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:16 AM   #4
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

I liked the article, but I don't think the guy knows what he is talking about concerning pulling Ramsey quick if he falters and going to Brunnell and the fact that he didn't mention Holdman in the mix at MLB. Nothing new, just a positive spin on the same old info. I guess I really can't expect a sports writer to follow the skins as closely as the rest of us here on the warpath...

Come on preseason!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:05 PM   #5
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooby
that was a great article. i have no doubt our defense will be top 3 or better next season, especially with the return of arrington and bowen. i think the real questions are on offense.

I hope you're right, but I wouldn't bet on it. We will be playing some high octane offenses this year. The AFC West - Chargers(will they repeat last years success) Raider - they got some weapons on O. Cheifs - Nuff said, and Denver. Then we get the Rams(always gets good yardage), Arizona may surprise, and then 6 game in our division which we have had major problems with. Plus, our offense can't get worse, so teams will put up more yards if we get to a lead. Last year, we barely had leads. Sorry for being negative, but I think the rating is a bit deceiving. More important is points per game, not yards per game. That is what really counts.
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Old 07-31-2005, 03:50 PM   #6
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

I love an upbeat article.
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:11 PM   #7
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

that was a pretty fair assessment of the team and thats all you can really ask for at this point. nice article.
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:32 PM   #8
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

This article is way better than Jason La Canfora's piece:

For Redskins, Vacation Is Over

Talk about accentuating the negative! I guess the Post is still pissed. Come on!
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Old 07-31-2005, 05:33 PM   #9
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Re: Pretty good summary ...

Seriously. Not only that, a few of those facts are skewed.
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